There are Friday news dumps, and then there are Friday news dumps; last Friday’s was absolutely stunning. It’s as if they’d taken the overwhelming force bit of the Powell Doctrine and applied it to being irredeemably terrible people. If this wasn’t enough, even the weather wanted to get in on the action.
To borrow from an old Cuban proverb: “Que mierda, man.”
In spite of President Cranky Grandpa doling out pardons willy-nilly and violent weather systems, we still had tickets to The Mynabirds’ album release show that same day. Those familiar with these internet pages/our Twitter feed or generally hangs around us knows that we have been big fans of The Mynabirds for several years, following a random discovery at Slowtrain Records in Salt Lake City (RIP) during an exquisitely punishing leg of the Exile tour.
So when we learned a few months ago Laura and co. would be playing at The Bootleg, we did not hesitate to acquire tickets. (Our attempts to catch a show have been thwarted several times in the past by life, most maddeningly when she played at 939 in Boston—right up the street from where we were living!)
But yes, we bought tickets this time. The entire show was magnificent. The opening bands—Umm and Winter—both blew us away in a manner we weren’t expecting. And that’s without even getting into The Mynabirds’ set. It was fucking magical, it was elevating, and it was sorely needed. It was one of those shows where it felt everyone was in on whatever was happening. The separation between stage and floor, performer and audience was a formality. It was a big ol’ lovefest.
After the show, we met Laura while she was at the merch table. I never know what to expect in rare moments I meet an artist I respect and have followed from afar, especially after this long. Suffice to say Laura was supremely cool, incredibly friendly to chat with, and generous with her time. Things like that are never owed, but this awkward bastard will always appreciate it. (One day I’ll post about the time we met Arion Salazar when we were 17. It was a life lesson in kindness.)
In more reflective moments, I do feel self-conscious about how much I gush about certain bands, certain albums. At least until I remember a central fact: I am not cool, nor have I ever been cool.
Exhibit A: me at my first guitar-related performance.
I dig music, I dig folks with something to say, and I dig people who can make wonderful, great big art who aren’t great big assholes about it. At this point, I’m too old to feel sheepish about this, right? Right.
To wit: Be Here Now is a great album and you should buy it. (This should not be confused with its namesake, Oasis’ 18-hour cautionary tale of late 90s excess and inadvisable amounts of cocaine.)
We were so amped up from the show, Saturday we worked our way through a mid-level hangover by demoing a song we’d written in Boston—I believe it’s the last one we completed before bailing, right after the election. It’s a fucking banger. I don’t know when you’ll get to hear it—could be years, could be soon, could be onstage—but make a note of when you read this post and we can talk about it later.
Sunday, we attended our first Dodgers game. We’re not big sports people, generally speaking, but it was Cuba Day (or Cuban Heritage Day… not sure what the official title was). Jenny Lorenzo was involved—a fellow Miami ex-pat whose work we enjoy greatly—and as newly minted Los Angelenos, we felt compelled to see what the Dodgers were about.
Plus: there were free hats.
Everyone knows a Cuban can’t pass up a free hats.
(That is not true at all.)
It was hot as hell and the Dodgers did not play so well, but it was fun. I also took it as an opportunity to take Abuelo’s guayabera out for a stroll. He was a short, stout man who loved to buy clothes which were too big for him. The shirt was too big for me too, and I cleared him by nearly a foot.
One can never say the old man didn’t aspire to bigger things, I guess.
Which brings us to last night. Jen and I walked down to Birds—quickly becoming our haunt in Hollywood. Yesterday was a long day and a goddamn scorcher, thusly beer was a requirement. We caught a bit of the Dodgers game on TV—they lost again; we may be bad luck—and to decompress a bit. Be human. Jen’s been re-reading Many Years From Now, on McCartney’s life in London during the 60s. A big takeaway on this read is the sense of community at the time among artists living and creating in the same city.
To that end, between chatting with Laura (and Jess Wolfe!) at the Bootleg, all the amazing folks and bands we’ve already met out here, our Masshole friends who’ve either made it out here or are en route, catching a taping of One Day at a Time and learning there’s a history of Cuban folks planting roots out this way… it’s all starting to feel like we’re finding our kind out here, whatever that means. Whether we meant to or not, our stock in trade has always been in being outsiders; even in Boston, which is odd to think about, let alone admit.
Truth told, I don’t think we’ve ever been terribly good at fitting in anywhere.
Things are beginning to feel different this time.
I’ve said it before: hurricanes are no goddamn joke. It’s going to take a lot of doing to get everyone back on their feet. Especially now, we have to look out for each other.
(If there are any other reputable organizations one should contribute to, please let me know in the comments.)